Progressive Web Apps: A Rising Star

Progressive web apps have been on the market for several years, but 2022 could be the year that they replace web apps altogether.
January 27, 2022
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Thanks to Starbucks’ progressive web app (PWA), the company gained twice as many daily active users. 

The coffee shop chain created its PWA to make the ordering process easier and more user-friendly. Similar to the native app, it allows customers to take a look at the menu, see location-specific products and prices, and much more. But the PWA is significantly smaller than the native app alternative, can run without a network connection, and offers numerous additional advantages.

Although progressive web apps have been around for years, they are steadily growing in popularity. A huge number of companies are embracing the product, not just Starbucks — Tinder, Pinterest, Uber, Twitter, and Forbes, to name just a few. 

HubSpot projects that the latest form of PWAs will replace web apps completely. Will 2022 be the year that happens?

What Is a Progressive Web App?

The term progressive web app was coined by Alex Russell of Google in 2015, as a way to refer to apps that are, well, progressive. PWAs are essentially web apps — but enhanced. 

Because they are built with APIs and leverage ServiceWorkers that introduce special features, their capabilities extend beyond those of the typical web app. For example, users can access them anywhere and on practically any device, whether or not they have an internet connection.

Despite the fact that PWAs are cross-platform, they behave and feel like native apps. They are accessed in a web browser and can be installed via the mobile home screen. 

7 Benefits of PWAs

1. They Are Easy to Build

From a developer’s standpoint, PWAs are quick to build, allowing you to put them out to market quickly. Developers use progressive technology to create these enhanced, platform-independent web apps using a single codebase. 

Not only can you develop these apps quickly, but you also need little funding to do so. You will require fewer resources than it would take to build a native app and roll it out.

2. They Offer a Native-like Experience

Native apps bring a number of qualities to the user experience that hybrid apps simply don’t. In general, users tend to prefer the look and feel of the former type over the latter. And fortunately, PWAs emulate the native experience, while utilizing less money and fewer resources to build.

PWAs offer enhanced functionalities, behaving like native apps, while still functioning within your device’s browser. They are designed similarly and offer the same level of user experience.

3. They Are Simple to Install

PWAs can be installed directly from the web browser. That requires significantly less time and is a much simpler process than installing native or hybrid apps onto your device. They function in a browser, too, running in a window, and they can be accessed from a wide array of locations, including keyboard shortcuts, the home screen, the taskbar, and more.

Because of these qualities, users are far less likely to abandon PWAs. This is an enormous advantage for the development company because holding onto users is a challenge. With roughly a quarter of mobile apps abandoned by users after just one use after downloading, this is absolutely critical.

4. They Are Network-Independent and Reliable

PWAs don’t require a strong network connection in order to function. In fact, they work completely offline. And no matter what the network or lack thereof, these apps are wholly reliable. You don’t have to worry about stability — the PWA will function all the time. Meanwhile, the information is stored and cached, even if your connectivity is weak or nonexistent. 

If you lose your connectivity, you will be able to access the PWA again and again in a pinch. This also serves developers, who will still manage to retain their consumers. 

5. They Are High-Performance

Speed is of the utmost importance when it comes to creating a high-quality app. And PWAs bring just that, offering a high-performance experience to their user base. Loading times are much faster, and using the app itself is an optimal experience. This is efficient for users, who will also continue to return to the app again and again thanks to the performance — along with the many other qualities.

6. They Are Responsive

This enjoyable user experience is further enhanced by a highly responsive design. That means that these lightweight apps will conform to the device and screen size, no matter whether you’re using an android, an iPhone, a tablet, a laptop, or another device entirely. 

This design allows the app to adapt accordingly, giving you a clear, unaltered view, presenting the interface in a clear, easy-to-follow format. This also offers a more consistent user experience, and reliability and consistency are key when it comes to retaining consumers.

7. They Are Discoverable

A final advantage of PWAs in contrast to many other types of apps is that they are discoverable. You can find them in a web search and in-app stores. That means you can fine-tune your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, including relevant keywords and devising metadata and meta descriptions to improve search results. 

Because of this, you can make your content relevant to your target audience and what they might search for, optimizing it accordingly. 

While PWAs aren’t perfect for every context, they do offer a number of advantages to users and developers alike, enabling accessibility and plenty of additional benefits. In the short time since they first emerged, they have grown in popularity. Will they replace web apps completely in the coming year? That remains to be seen. But all signs point to — “quite possibly.”

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